Sunday, July 21, 2013

Some Chess to Follow

I think it's been a while since I mentioned that I'm going on holiday to the USA in September. There's only 8 weeks or 57 days left before I go, and I can hardly wait! The only problem is that while something exciting is looming in your life, time drags by slowly. So over the next couple of weeks I'm delighted to have some chess tournaments to follow which bring a personal touch to my observation.

The World Youth Under 16 Olympiad is being held in China, and I'll be following the exploits of the Australian Junior teams competing there. I've played almost all the young players there (with varying success!) and wish them the very best of luck. The teams have the expert GM guidance of Australian number 1 ranked player Zong Yuan Zhao, and legendary Australian GM Ian Rogers. Last year, the tournament was exciting and Australia had chances for a medal going into the last round. This year the tournament looks a little stronger at the top level, but the Aussie team matches up pretty well. It will be particularly intersting to see how IM Bobby Cheng compares to the other board 1's. Bobby is a prodigious talent who won the World under-12 championship a few years back. The question is whether his peers from more chess developed countries such as Russia or India have pulled ahead of him, or whether he can still hold his own. Of course it will be interesting to see how the whole Australian team match up on their respective boards. Especially exciting is Anton Smirnov, the number 1 rated player in the World born in 2001 who is playing on board 2 for the under 16 team despite his young age!

As I was born in England, I eagerly follow the British Championships, traditionally held at the end of July and beginning of August each year. This year is the 100th British Championship and 10 Grand Masters are among the players making the trip to the west country seaside resort of Torquay. Another English immigrant to Australia is playing. IM Gary Lane who originally hails from the West of England is in the field and I wish him good luck! Of course, part of the enjoyment of watching this event is that I know and have played against a number of the competitors, and will be hoping they do well. I guess GM Gawain Jones is the man to beat in the Championship after coming joint first in the Scottish Champs last week, but it is a pretty tough field. There are a whole series of events at the British, including age group championships, seniors championship (not long for me to be in this!), limited ratings events, one week tournaments, weekend and rapid and blitz events. There is usually a simul over the middle weekend, and a cricket match that I seem to remember IM Andrew Martin always had a lot to do with organising.

The World Youth Championship starts tomorrow, and as it finishes next week, the British Championships start. This gives me 3 weeks of uninterrupted chess excitement, and after the British is finished there will be just 38 days to go before I fly off to the USA!

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